Report: Apple Won’t Support 5G Until at Least 2020

Posted on December 3, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Mobile with 28 Comments

A Bloomberg report says that Apple won’t ship the first 5G-capable iPhones until late 2020, about a year after the rest of the industry.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Apple’s first iPhone ran on AT&T’s 2G network, EDGE, at a time when 3G was broadly available elsewhere. And Apple was late to the game with 4G/LTE, as well.

Bloomberg suggests that Apple’s tardiness “may make it easier for rivals like Samsung to win over consumers” during 2019’s transition to 5G. But moving slowly has never hurt Apple in the past. The iPhone has consistently been the best-selling smartphone model despite routinely ignoring features and technologies that are available elsewhere.

That said, 5G is a much bigger upgrade than the previous transition to 4G/LTE, which was aided by HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) technologies that helped 3G networks boost speed over time. Moving to 5G will perhaps be more like the transition to 3G, with dramatically increased performance.

Market leader Qualcomm will likely make some 5G announcements at its Snapdragon Tech Summit this week. I spoke with that firm earlier this year and was told that 5G was transformational because it would enable mobile devices to access cloud data more quickly than doing so via local storage.

So we’ll see. But Apple’s slowness here doesn’t surprise me. It’s the way they’ve always done things.

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